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Ethics board wants review of complaints against Rep. John Conyers to continue

Aug 9, 2017

An ethics investigation of Detroit Congressman John Conyers appears set to move to the next level.

For months, the Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics have been looking into claims John Conyers continued to pay his former chief of staff for time while she was on "unpaid" leave.

Conyers fired Cynthia Martin last year after she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property.

In an official report, the investigators say Conyers may have violated House rules:

The Board recommends that the Committee on Ethics further review the above allegation because there is substantial reason to believe that Representative Conyers provided a member of his congressional staff with compensation that was not commensurate with the work she performed, in violation [of] House rules and standards of conduct. 

In a written statement in response to the board’s report, John Conyers maintained the employment "settlement agreement" with Martin was approved by the Office of House Employment Counsel. He accuses investigators of “second-guessing” his discretion in a personnel decision.  

Members are accorded substantial discretion over compensation and leave policies, so that they can manage their offices efficiently in the interests of their districts.  The House Rules and federal law permitted Representative Conyers to reach the Settlement Agreement and Release.

The congressman’s statement goes on to say “there is no reason to believe that Mr. Conyers paid Ms. Martin for anything other than the performance of official duties.”

Congressional ethics investigators say John Conyers “refused to cooperate” with their review. As part of the ethics board’s request that the House Ethics Committee continue to review the complaint, they are asking the committee to subpoena Conyers.

John Conyers is considered to be the Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the longest currently serving member of the House and is serving his 27th term in Washington.